Best Music of 2013

Time for the annual post!  I hope I get a lot of comment spam!

I’ve become a lot more aggressive in my music ratings.  I don’t have a lot of time, and you don’t get a lot of chances.

Here’s my top albums.

1. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

Worst album title.  Worst name for a band.  Far and away the best album of the year.  It came out in January or February, and the CD is still in my car stereo today.  Well, a copy of the CD, because who puts the actual CD in their car stereo?  Dave.  I bet Dave does.  I’m not going to judge if this is the best Vampire Weekend album, as I think they are all excellent.  It’s quite a feat for a band to release three albums and not have any of them be a dud.  On Modern Vampires, they eschew the South African Graceland-esque guitar that formed the basis of their sound on the first two albums, and nothing is the worse for wear.  Vampire Weekend may be the best band recording with regularity today.

2. Wooden Wand – Blood Oaths of the New Blues

This may have come out in 2012.  I heard it for the first time in 2013, so it’s here.  I still remember where I first heard it.  I was parked outside of Mater Dolorosa Church after voting, and I got into the car as the second half of the first song, No Bed for Beattle Wand/Days Gone By, came on the radio.  I sat there and listened to the whole thing before driving off.  I then called up WTUL to ask who the artist was.  Calling up WTUL to ask who the artist is is just about my favorite thing in the world to do. I love those stoned kids.  Anyway, the stoned kid said it was “Woolen Bob.”  I ended up having to search for the “I gave it too much gas and I flooded it” line because “Woolen Bob” returned a lot of results about blankets, and the chorus of “days gone by” was just a little too common.  I got the album and discovered that the first song was eleven minutes long and included a great deal of droning repetition, so I put it aside for a long time.  For some reason, I decided to give it another shot, I don’t remember why or when, and Outsider Blues got its hooks in me, and I kept listening.  I even got Leslie to admit that it was pretty good, which I consider one of my major victories of the year.

3. Rhye – Woman

I need one sexy album every year, or I feel I’ve died a little inside.  In the past I’ve had The XX and Justin Timberlake, and this year I have Rhye.  I think I love a male falsetto almost as much as I love a baritone.

4. Phosphorescent – Muchacho

This year I discovered I was not the only person in the world who likes Phosphorescent when Brent K. asked me for their album.  I think this may be Phosphorescent’s best album.  Song for Zula is just wonderful.  I’ve been into peaceful music this year.  Nice pretty songs.  Phophorescent has really helped me out in that department.

5. Waxahatchee – Cerulean Salt

I’ve listened to this album pretty consistently throughout the year.  I don’t think I’ve ever skipped it when it comes up on a shuffle.  It reminds me of early Liz Phair, without all the sex.  Thoughtful lyrics, almost catchy tunes, scratchy semi-tuneless voice.   Good stuff.

6. Kurt Vile – Wakin’ on a Pretty Daze

Kurt Vile is still doing his thing.  If anyone wants to explain to me why I enjoy these 10 minute lazy stoner songs, please let me know.  Shame Chamber and Goldentone are just great.  I went to his show at One Eyed-Jacks this year.  I was in the front row.  I haven’t been in the front row of a concert since I was 19 years old.  It was fantastic.  It was crowded, but I could see everything, and I didn’t have to deal with dummies dancing into me, since everyone was all pushed up close.  My friends were a few rows back and had a miserable time.  Once I accepted that I wasn’t going anywhere, I could have stayed all night.

7. The Mountain Goats – All Hail West Texas

I like the Mountain Goats.  There’s a lot of good songs on this album.  I’m going to assume that there is some story behind this album that I am not aware of.  It sounds like it was recorded in Daniel Johnston’s garage.  The Mountain Goats are really good at making little short story songs.  I really enjoy the one about the teenagers who have a death metal band, and the one about the high school running back who injures his knee and starts selling acid.

8. The National – Trouble Will Find Me

Yep, it’s a The National album.  This band is great at making this album.


Random Notes on Other Notable Albums of 2013:

The Arcade Fire – Reflecktor

Fire your producer, Arcade Fire.  There is a saxophone part on the chorus of the title track that is just awesome.  There’s another part towards the end where it comes in again.  The only problem is that it is buried way in the back of the mix.  Bring it to the front, and that song is fantastic.  Include more of it on the whole album, and the whole album is so much better.

Neko Case – The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, the More I Fight, the More I Love You

Fire your producer, Neko Case.  Someone should have told you that the a cappella parts of this album kill an otherwise solid effort.  That song about the kid in the airport in Hawaii is just the worst.

Okkervil River – The Silver Gymnasium

A concept album about growing up in New Hampshire?  Sounds good to me!  Try a little harder next time, will you?  Making your songs sound like 80s radio songs is an understandable stylistic choice, but you have to be able to execute it.

The Dodos – Carrier

I love Visiter.  You’re just not showing me enough to continue believing in you.

Bill Callahan – Dream River

I don’t care what Brent Koster says, you keep on mumbling and rocking that flute.

Camper Van Beethoven – La Costa Perdida

I went to go see Camper Van Beethoven perform Key Lime Pie in its entirety, and then Cracker performed Low.  It was a great show.  I think that was this year.  It may have been last year.  Doesn’t matter.  That concert got me excited that a new Camper Van Beethoven album might be okay.  It’s not.

Houndmouth – From the Hills Below the City and Mount Moriah – Miracle Temple

I think my favorite magazine is Garden & Gun.  It’s about Fine Living in the South.  Their music section is good if you are looking for decent modern country/blues music.  I found the Alabama Shakes from them last year, and I found Houndmouth and Mount Moriah from them this year.  Both of these bands are straight up country  albums, a genre that I have found myself liking a lot more than I have in the past.  Maybe I am becoming a little lazy in my evaluation of music.   Houndmouth is a little rougher and makes good use of a male and female singer, kinda of like Holly Golightly and the Brokeoffs.  Mount Moriah is just the female Dolly Parton voice doing solid country songs.  Julian loves Mount Moriah.  He dances whenever they come on.  I prefer the Houndmouth album, but who am I to deny my son’s choice.

Here’s my Best Songs of 2013.  I can’t say I put a lot of thought into the order after #25 or so.

1. Open – Rhye
2. Outsider Blues – Wooden Wand
3. Step – Vampire Weekend
4. Royals – Lorde
5. Song for Zula – Phosphorescent
6. Swan Dive – Waxahatchee
7. Ragtime – Neko Case
8. Eleonora – Laura Stevenson
9. Shame Chamber – Kurt Vile
10. Everlasting Arms – Vampire Weekend
11. Pink-Slips – Okkervil River
12. Pink Rabbits – The National
13. Unbelievers – Vampire Weekend
14. Muchacho’s Tune – Phosphorescent
15. Color in Your Cheeks – The Mountain Goats
16. November 2011 – Moonface
17. Local Girl – Neko Case
18. Come Down the Coast – Camper Van Beethoven
19. This Lonely Morning – Best Coast
20. Sink, Swim – Laura Stevenson
21. Here Comes The Night Time – Arcade Fire
22. Demons – The National
23. Obvious Bicycle – Vampire Weekend
24. Lips and Limbs – Waxahatchee
25. Terror in the Canyons (The Wounded Master) – Phosphorescent
26. Small Plane – Bill Callahan
27. 3 Days – Rhye
28. Suicide Girl – Belle & Sebastian
29. Durga II – Generationals
30. No Bed for Beatle Wand / Days This Long – Wooden Wand
31. White Teeth Teens – Lorde
32. Different Day – Jason Isbell
33. Byegone – Volcano Choir
34. Finger Back – Vampire Weekend
35. The Best Ever Death Metal Band in Denton – The Mountain Goats
36. Don’t Lie – Vampire Weekend
37. Snowflakes Are Dancing – Kurt Vile
38. Gig Life – The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die
39. I Tell Myself Everything – The Blow
40. Goldtone – Kurt Vile
41. Plenty of Girls in the Sea – MGMT
42. Joan of Arc – Arcade Fire
43. Southern Colorado Song – Wooden Wand
44. Don’t Swallow the Cap – The National
45. Singers and the Endless Song – Iron & Wine
46. Penitentiary – Houndmouth
47. Afterlife – Arcade Fire
48. Au Revoir (Adios) – The Front Bottoms
49. Reflektor – Arcade Fire
50. Night Still Comes – Neko Case

Because for some reason BK likes a list with no repeated artists, here’s that list.  It pretty much cuts it in half.

1. Open – Rhye
2. Outsider Blues – Wooden Wand
3. Step – Vampire Weekend
4. Royals – Lorde
5. Song for Zula – Phosphorescent
6. Swan Dive – Waxahatchee
7. Ragtime – Neko Case
8. Eleonora – Laura Stevenson
9. Shame Chamber – Kurt Vile
10. Pink-Slips – Okkervil River
11. Pink Rabbits – The National
12. Color in Your Cheeks – The Mountain Goats
13. November 2011 – Moonface
14. Come Down the Coast – Camper Van Beethoven
15. This Lonely Morning – Best Coast
16. Here Comes The Night Time – Arcade Fire
17. Small Plane – Bill Callahan
18. Suicide Girl – Belle & Sebastian
19. Durga II – Generationals
20. Different Day – Jason Isbell
21. Byegone – Volcano Choir
22. Gig Life – The World Is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die
23. I Tell Myself Everything – The Blow
24. Plenty of Girls in the Sea – MGMT
25. Singers and the Endless Song – Iron & Wine
26. Penitentiary – Houndmouth
27. Au Revoir (Adios) – The Front Bottoms